This guide is intended as an introduction to the Modern Language Association 9th edition style for references and citations. Be sure to consult the MLA Handbook or the MLA Style Center website for detailed standards and procedures.
As a general rule, use MLA style in literature, arts, and humanities.
In-text citations are concise references in the body of your paper that point readers to the Works Cited entries for the sources you used to write your paper. When applicable, it points to the location (e.g. page number, paragraph number) in the source being cited.
Basic Parenthetical Citation Format
(Last Name Page #)
For more guidelines and examples, check out the MLA Style Center In-Text Citations Overview.
In-text citations can appear in prose or in parentheses.
The author name appears in parentheses.
The author name is incorporated into the text as part of the sentence.
(Modern Language Association ch. 6)
If you are quoting or paraphrasing a specific part of a source and the source includes a page number, line number, time stamp, or other indicator of the location in the source where the information can be found, then that location marker must be included.
If you cite a number other than a page number in a parenthetical citation, it must be preceded with a label.
|In Prose||In Parenthetical Citation|
|chapter 2||(ch. 2)|
|line 110||(line 110)|
|scene 4||(sc. 4)|
A quotation is when you replicate another author's work or your own previously published work word-for-word.
If a prose quotation extends no more than four lines in your paper and needs no distinction, consider it as a short quotation. Integrate it into your text and enclose within double quotation marks. Any sentence punctuation goes after the closing parenthesis of the citation.
According to Naomi Baron, reading is “just half of literacy. The other half is writing” (194).
Tyson began to investigate how feminine and masculine bodies (and work) were policed as presenters of history and how criticisms were often rooted in “notions of historical authenticity” (54).
“Happiness involves a form of orientation,” writes the feminist critic Sara Ahmed, continuing that “the very hope for happiness means we get directed in specific ways, as happiness is assumed to follow from some life choices and not others” (54).
If a prose quotation extends more than four lines in your paper, use a blockquote. Set the quote off from the text as a block indented 1/2" from the left margin as a visual cue that you are citing.
Considering the analysis of the American master narrative of the Vietnam War that exists in both literature and film, Ha suggests:
Because much of the information about the Vietnam War is filtered through the ideological and discriminatory lenses of the U.S. media and the society’s idées reçues, reading of the traumatic experiences of the Vietnamese people becomes an ethical responsibility for anyone interested in the Vietnam War. (486)
Paraphrasing and summarizing entails restating a source’s points in your own words while giving credit to the source that informed your ideas. Always include an in-text citation so your reader can find the full citation in the works cited list.
(Modern Language Association ch. 6)
You only need the author's last name and the page number.
If there is no author...
Use a shortened title of the work
("Impact of Global Warming")
Connect both authors' last names with and, and include the page number.
(Best and Marcus 9)
Use the first author's last name and et al., and include the page number.
(Franck et al. 327)
The MLA Handbook does not provide strict instructions on how to format citations for specific types of sources. Instead, a universal set of general guidelines for citation and documentation that can be applied to any source type are outlined. These guidelines, have been followed in developing this guide, including the following examples.
General Guidelines for Styling Titles in MLA
General Guidelines for Styling Works Cited
Author Last Name, First Name Middle Name or Initial. Title of Longer Work or "Title of Shorter Work." Publisher, Year. URL or DOI.
I'm citing a...
Diaz, Natalie. “Post-Colonial Love Poem.” New Republic, vol. 247, no. 3, Mar. 2016, p. 69. EBSCOhost, https://ezproxy.midlandstech.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=112575922&site=ehost-live.
Cochrane, Emily, and Noah Weiland. "Hillary Clinton, the N.F.L., Roy Moore and Other Asides from the President." The New York Times, 16 Nov. 2018, https://nyti.ms/2zf1TPB.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1st ed., J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1960.eBook
Hughes, Langston. Letters from Langston: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Red Scare and Beyond, edited by Evelyn Louise Crawford and Mary Louise Patterson. University of California Press, 2016. EBSCOhost Academic eBook Collection, https://ezproxy.midlandstech.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=1105577&site=ehost-live&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_Cover.
Green, David. "Supporting the Academic Success of Hispanic Students." College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know, edited by Andrew D. Asher and Lynda M. Duke, ALA Editions, 2011. EBSCOhost Academic eBook Collection, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/midlandstech/reader.action?docID=772268&ppg=77.
“Citing Your Sources.” Midlands Technical College Library, 2020, https://libguides.midlandstech.edu/citingsources.
Jackson, Michael. Thriller, Epic, 2014. CD.
Song from an Album
Snail Mail. “Thinning.” Habit, Sister Polygon Records, 2016. Vinyl EP.
Song on a website
Beyoncé. "Pretty Hurts." Beyoncé, Parkwood Entertainment, 2013, www.beyonce.com/album/beyonce/?media_view=songs.
Song from an app
Lopez, Jennifer. "Vivir mi vida." Sony Music Latin, 2017. Spotify app.
(Modern Language Association 330)
Check out more examples of citing online sources from the MLA Style Center.
For information about citing images visit Finding and Using Image Resources.
The MLA Handbook, 9th Edition specifies conventions for formatting papers. Below is a sample paper formatted in MLA 9 style. See more sample papers at MLA Style Center.
1. Highlight the citation in your reference list with your cursor.
2. Right click.
3. Select Paragraph.
4. Under Indentation, select Special and Hanging.
Learn how to format a paper using Microsoft Word according to MLA style.
This guide was created by Erica Huff with excerpts from CSUDH University Library's Citation Guide used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.
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